Friday, September 27, 2013

Physical Therapy

I've been meaning to write about physical therapy for weeks, just never got around to it before this.

So yeah, I've been going to physical therapy twice a week for at least 6 weeks now.

Why?  Because of my aching back!  And sometimes hips, and legs, but mostly my back. I've had nasty pain off and on, especially on the lower right side of my back.  For a LONG time, like years.

Again, why?  Why would a 43 year old woman have such an aching back? Well, lots of reasons probably.  Not exercising enough.  Babies.  Lots of them.  The latter IS probably the biggest reason, because my abdominal muscles and lots of other body parts were strained and weak from having children.  Plus I have been carrying a baby around on the hip for most of 13 years.   Not that I mind that, of course.  Those kids are the most precious gift that God has given me after the Lord Jesus and Kevin.

  I found a fantastic chiropractor 3 years ago, and going there made a lot of difference.  I would be in pain, I would go in, I would find relief.  But the thing was, I would revert back to having problems fairly quickly. The basic, underlying weakness remained.

 Finally, Kevin and I decided, ENOUGH. Time to get some physical therapy.  I found a likely place, referred myself, and met a sweet therapist named Esther. 

  She works me hard, and I'm much stronger than I was 6 weeks ago. It is very encouraging.  My back pain is better though not entirely gone. The basic pain issue, according to my PT, is that I have some muscles that tend to clench up.  In addition to nasty exercises, I sometimes get traction and deep massage to loosen up those unhappy muscles.

  It takes money and time to make this work, and that is what held me back for years.  It costs $40 a week (thanks to excellent insurance) to go to PT 2 times, and 3 hours of time to get to the appointments, do my exercises, and come home again.  Naomi and Lydia can watch the younger ones while I run off, which also makes it possible.  No way could I take 8 kids to the PT!

  I'm supposed to do a bunch of exercises at home each day, and that's where the high comedy comes in.  The picture at the top of the post shows me on a rubber ball.  I have several "ball" exercises.  Sitting on the ball forces me to use core muscles, and indeed I get some benefit from using the ball without doing exercises.

 The challenge of the ball, and indeed all my exercises, is that the young children see Mommy doing something interesting and they want to be PART of it.  If I lie down on the floor to do head curls or side planks, some enterprising small child inevitably wants to sit on me, lie on me, or jab me in the stomach (accidentally) with a small pointy elbow. It is SO hard to do my exercises at home, but I am persevering.

 All in all, good thing to do.  As a mother and a homeschooler, I tend to put the rest of the family before myself.  Selflessness is all well and good, but I do need to be operational.  A mom with a terrible back is a mom who can't do her job well.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chained to a Desk (Well, a Table, Really)

Today is the 25th of the month, which is "prize day" around here.  The children get to choose something out of our "prize box" if they have read the Bible the first 25 days of the month.  In practical fact, this doesn't always happen for the youngest kids since I have to read to them, and I sometimes forget.  But I don't penalize them for my own forgetfulness, so the older 7 each got a prize today.

  The prize box has cheap little toys from a dollar store, candy, etc.  Today, 2 lucky children got to pick out toy handcuffs.  They were definitely the most exciting prizes in the box today.

  Here, Joseph has handcuffed himself to a table so he is FORCED to watch Isaac play a fun computer game. Yep, lots of suffering going on here. You can tell.

  I am glad these are the toys cuffs that don't require a key, as the keys promptly broke.  You just push a little button and they open.


AND It's Broken...

  I took our sweet Lydia to the orthopedic surgeon yesterday.  I was expecting follow up x-rays but he didn't bother, as he said the Friday x-rays showed a clear break of the growth plate in her wrist.  The whole thing is bewildering and rather upsetting as we were told on Friday that they couldn't tell whether there was a fracture or not. In any case, she has a cast, which will stay on for 3 weeks.  The bones are not displaced and it should heal beautifully.

  I just called our pediatrician's office to discuss Friday's inaccurate report.. The nurse said they just get a report, not images of the x-rays, and the report she got was that swelling made it impossible to tell whether there was a fracture.  So I guess this is a case of 2 different doctors seeing 2 different things, though the orthopedic surgeon said there were arrows on the x-rays pointing at the break.

  I will chalk this up to bemusement and experience, I guess.  The nurse said, and I will remember this, that with kids and growth plates, it is wise to be cautious. So when in doubt check, and check again.  With 8 kids and money and time, it is sometimes tempting to skip an appointment.  I don't take our kids to the doctor for every little thing, that's for sure. But in this case, with persistent pain, it was good to follow up. She is feeling better than last week, as the swelling has gone down.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Injured Lydia

At the very end of our skating party on Thursday, Sarah wandered off into a restricted area (barred off by a rope) and Lydia went after her.  When Lydia shooed Sarah out, and tried to come out herself, one skate was caught on the rope and Lydia fell awkwardly on her right arm.  She said it felt "numb" when she got up and it took her awhile to get up.  Uh oh.

But honestly, I was pretty mellow about it.  Our kids have fallen many times and usually are fine after a few hours.  We came home and Lydia put ice on her arm and took it easily for the rest of the day.  I knew we might need to visit the doctor, but she was doing Ok so long as she didn't move it much, so there didn't seem much urgency.

  Yesterday morning, I checked Lydia at 8 a.m. and she said her arm didn't feel any better.  Uh oh.  It was hurting a lot when she moved it in certain ways.  Ok, off to the doctor we went.  The doc ordered x-rays.  Good news is that the elbow is definitely Ok.  Bad news was that there is a ton of swelling near her wrist and lower arm, to the point that there might even be a fracture in there without the x-rays revealing it.

  So for now, we are essentially continuing the same treatment.  Ibuprofin to reduce swelling.  Arm splint now, to keep the area immobilized.  Sling.  Ice.  On Tuesday, Lydia has an appointment with an orthopedic doctor at our local children's hospital.   By then, the swelling should be way down and she'll probably get more x-rays to make sure there isn't a break.

 For now, I'm thinking bad sprain, most likely.  Bad sprains CAN be bad.  I had a sprained ankle once that required a cast for 2 weeks. 

  It is, OF COURSE, her right arm.  I'm trying to figure out how to do school next week with her arm not really available.  It isn't urgent and we've only got 'til Tuesday before we'll have further information.  She may just do a lot of reading.  She can type with her left hand, but that's painfully slow.

  The other exciting truth is that with Lydia out of commission, many chores need done by Kevin, me, or Naomi.  It makes me appreciate all that our big girls do as they both do a LOT.  I keep finding things that Lydia usually does...oh right, someone has to do those things!

  I printed out a new chore chart with "Injured Lydia Edition" emblazoned in red at the top.

  Prayers are appreciated that she heals quickly and fast, and that we are wise in managing this injury.  I am thankful that our kids have "good bones" and have not had many injuries.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Random Pics from This Week

  This is a shot from yesterday evening as we got the little ones ready for bed.  Daniel still gets a bottle of formula at night, and it is a blissful time for him.  Sarah drinks her "white milk" as she calls it -- cow's milk.  You may or may not be able to tell that Sarah's eyes are a little crossed. She wears her glasses ALMOST all the time but when she doesn't, they tend to cross.  I'm so thankful for doctors and glasses!

Honestly, this blew me away. Angela wrote this.  She is not a fluent reader nor has she had much training in writing yet.  Translated, this says, "Can I have something from my bag."  The bag in question is her "candy bag".  I was so impressed that she wrote this as best she could, without any prompting from me.
We went to a homeschool skating event this afternoon.  There is one each month during the school year.  Kids loved it.  It is hard to take pictures because of lighting difficulties so this pic is the best I have and just shows the changing of the footwear.
Angela learned how to skate today.  Last year she was a creeper around the edges, but today she did great!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Baby Steps

Part of my reason for posting this pictures it that honestly, the kid is SO CUTE!

Right before I snapped the pic, he was bent over the book, carefully turning the pages.  No, we are not raising a genius and he definitely has no clue the little squiggles are letters, but it was an adorable sight.

The "Baby Steps" title has to do with little accomplishments that add up to make my life easier.  For example, I can put Daniel on the couch and...he doesn't fall off anymore.  He has figured out how to get down from the couch, AND he knows that falling on his head hurts, so I don't worry about him falling off the couch.

That does make life easier, it really does! So does his ability to drink out of a sippy cup, eat food with his hands, use a spoon (a little) and climb stairs fairly safely. 

On the debit side, he has learned to climb ladders, but NOT safely.  He is getting into more things now.  He can and will fall into the tub if I let him.  So all is not easier, but there are little accomplishments that keep him a bit safer.

And I am grateful.

Isn't he cute?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Living With Messy People

When I say messy, I mean literally messy.  We are all emotionally messy in one way or another and we have to live with that, but that's the subject of another post.

I am not a neat freak but I am fairly organized and tidy.  And like many people, I have idiosyncrasies.  One is that I REALLY like having a clean floor.

Now with 10 people in the house, many of them young, the floors get messy fast. We've got Lincoln Logs and marble toys and a big dollhouse and Tinker Toys (2 sets!) and boxes of miscellaneous toys. The building toys aren't all out, all the time, but STILL, the young ones seem to specialize in cheerfully dumping the building toy of the day on the floor.  Either that, or worse -- they cart a few Lincoln Logs into every room of the house and abandon them so that we have pieces spewed everywhere.

So much of the day, the floors have something on them. But every night, we have a mass cleanup of the main living areas.  So when the kids are in bed, the floors are mostly clean.  I get a real emotional high from mostly gleaming, CLEAR floors.  (The bedrooms are usually not amazing, except ours.  Our bedroom floor is usually clear.)

I'm reading a book on ADHD/ADD right now. I don't think anyone in our family is ADD/ADHD, but just getting into the mind of an ADHD/ADD person is truly fascinating.  I realize its a broad spectrum disorder and I'm not trying to label anyone, it is just that some ADD/ADHD people are quite messy. They like piles, they struggle to stay on task, etc.  I guess that's part of the definition (the struggling to stay on task thing.)

I also follow the blog of Nony (short for aNONYmous) :

This lady is funny and smart and creative and her blog is great.

She is WAY different from me.  I am not particularly creative, and I'm an organized engineering type.

Nony has written several ebooks and I've bought 2 of them. They aren't really for people "like me" but I still got something from them.

Maybe the biggest thing I got is...not everyone THINKS like me.

I mean, I knew that.  But it helps to get behind the eyes of this loving, sweet, hilarious mom whose house used to be close to Hoarders bad and who still struggles mightily to keep things in order.  She has more than one post where she writes what is rushing through her brain at 100 miles per hour.  It is very funny stuff but just...different.

So, not all our kids THINK like me either.  We've got at least one confirmed messy person.  We have more than one pack rat.

I get exasperated, I admit it.  Especially with the floor thing.  We have clutter on almost every surface on the house, especially the high surfaces where we can put something up away from grasping baby hands.

But the floors!  WHY would anyone want a messy floor?  How can anyone tolerate a messy floor?  How can anyone stand to step over piles day in and day out and not clean them up?

Answer...the kids don't think exactly like I do.  Light bulb moment, Laraba, light bulb moment!

It really just does not bother them like it bothers me.  And you know, some people would walk through our house and cringe at all the stuff on surfaces.  Usually the stuff is one layer deep (no piles), there is clutter.  I don't really like it, but I can handle it. I can overlook it. But piles on the floor drive me nuts.

I am doing better with being patient with other people though maybe the hardest people to be patient with are those in my house, since I have to live with them and their mess.

And I think everyone does need to learn to be orderly.  Messy floors really aren't great in the long run, and I'm working on training our children to clean things up, to put things away, to GET RID OF THINGS when they are broken or useless or there are just too many things.

But I hope I'm more understanding these days.

One last little tidbit...Kevin tells me his floor was a mess when he was growing up.  He is a tidy, engineering person too but apparently not when he was a child.  So it is something that many people "grow into" over time.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Butterfly House

Our 4th child, Joseph, loves hands on science experiments.  The last couple of weeks, we raised butterflies.

Caterpillars, thinking about becoming chrysalli (chrysalises? )

Hanging chrysalises

They've hatched!  We fed them mandarin orange slices.  There is a story THERE.  Sarah was outraged when I took some slices to the caterpillars, and indignantly strode off with the glass bowl holding the rest of them. Which she then dropped. And the bowl smashed.  Into a million pieces.  Sigh.

Releasing them...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Random Pictures

Time is a premium, so here are a few fun pictures.

Mower extraordinaire!!

There are smears on this picture because the front door isn't clean. Sorry!  Kevin is working with Isaac as Isaac learns to fire a BB gun. We are going to teach our kids to use guns, and use them SAFELY.

Lydia, Miriam, and Angela worked on an Atelier Arts project together in our sun room/art room.

He is cute.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Ball, and a Bat, and Some Sunny Days

  The game of the week has been baseball, or some facsimile thereof.  Kevin and the 6 older kids had a rousing game of baseball, with some alternate rules, a few days ago.  It was Kevin against all the children, though he commandeered some people for his team when necessary.  The final score was 4-4, a tie.  Ties are allowed when you can make your own rules.

  Since then, the children have spent significant time outside playing games or just learning to toss a ball back and forth and catch it.  We have mitts, we have bats, we have kids, we have sunny days.  It is charming.  Kevin is taking this week off from work so he is helping them with their mechanics.  In particular, he is teaching them how to throw and catch balls to minimize how often someone is clunked in the head.  Yes, a few people have been clunked in the head with a ball, but so far with no significant injury.

  Of course, many people in our culture have their kids signed up for REAL baseball or softball, with teams and practices and coaches.  We've decided against organized sports for our children.  We have SO many children, and we find life stretching as it is.  To add lots of practices and games to our schedule would just about send us around the bend.  And the kids are having tons of fun with pick up games of baseball, in our yard, with our equipment, with their dad.  This works better for us.